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101: Should “better” players be taking a hard look at Apex ’21?

I’ve been asking myself this question since joining #teamcallaway. Should a sub-5-handicap player dare look at the Apex ’21?

It’s an honest question actually, Callaway offers a full line of player’s irons via the Apex MB, TCB, Apex Pro, and X-Forged CB so why on earth would I ever consider trying a forged “game improvement” iron?

I’ll frame this by laying out where my head went when looking into Apex ’21 for my own game.

  1. I’m fully capable of hitting any of the player’s offerings consistently out of the middle.
  2. I like the workability of a less offset, smaller profile iron.
  3. The Apex ’21 has a stronger loft package than what I normally play by about 2 to 3 degrees per iron. This was my biggest concern FYI.
  4. I’ll hit them too far, get heaters, etc.
  5. They aren’t a “Tour” iron.
  6. If I weaken the lofts to something closer to my set, it’ll mess up the whole thing

The list could actually expand quite a bit if I pressed but there is a flip side to that coin that I’m not identifying. That is honesty. Yes, I hit my irons solid but when I look at my stats my GIR and proximity to the hole are nowhere near where they should be to actually see the scores I want. I can hit good shots quite often but I’m definitely leaving meat on the bone with the current setup….and I’m a gearhead and love the Tour stuff.🤷🏻‍♂️ So there’s that 😂

The strengths of my game have always been Driving, Chipping, and Putting. At no point in my time playing would I ever consider myself a great iron player, I’d say mildly serviceable is a more fair assessment. So why am I fighting it?

A good idea could be to just work on my swing which is 100% a valid point but I’m more curious about immediate gains when I’m not hitting it well. I was chatting with a Champions Tour pal of mine and he gave me a little nugget. He only uses smaller profile irons when he knows he can take advantage of them. An interesting way to look at it for sure. What I took from this was he prefers to make things easy in any scenario. He also said that “good” game improvement irons will give you all the workability you would ever need if you know what you’re doing. That’s why when Phil put Epic Forged irons in the bag during the 2020 Masters he was still able to hit the shots he needed all while playing with a profile that would be designated for a higher handicapper.

It’s also with noting that Apex’ 21 isn’t SUPER game improvement, I think the stronger loft setup throws people off. I’ve played well with profiles that had a bigger thumbprint and faired really well. I’m going into this trying to find NEW opportunities in my bag. The woods are cooked, the wedges dialed and the putter is on point. It’s the 4-iron to 7-iron area that vexes me. Usually, I like to combo things up with CB long irons and MB short irons but I’m also tired of that. I want to play with one uniform set again and see what that gets me.

So here is what I’m doing now, I just ordered up a set of Apex ’21 irons, exactly to the spec of my current mixed set of X-Forged CB and Apex MB. The only twist is the loft package is a bit stronger (new specs below) but what I’m losing in the loft I’m getting in the launch and descent angle. What I’m gaining here (in theory) is ball speed and forgiveness on mis-hits which I so desperately need. My frequent miss is a center thin shot that loses its steam during the last 25% of its travels. That shot has cost me more grief than any other and I’m now calling in the heavy artillery to make it go away.

There was however one question/concern I had that kept me from pressing the button on this whole thing, the lofts. It’s no secret that the loft package in these styles of irons needs to be on the stronger side to avoid players hitting uncontrollable shots. Some people call it “loft jacking” which always gave me a chuckle. No, OEMs are not making the lofts stronger to pull the wool over your eyes and trick you into thinking you’re Sam Burns. It’s a necessity for the lofts to be stronger to work in harmony with the low CG’s and multi-material design of the irons. Take Bryson for example, his PW is 41 degrees. Is that why he hits it so far? NO. It’s simple math in that case. If his PW was on the more traditional side he would hit it straight up in the air with too much spin. The same rule (sort of) applies here.

The other question I have, is, how will bending these irons a degree or two weak affect the turf interaction/flight, etc?

This is where I had to go to the experts on the truck to get the answer and the answer was a resounding “nothing”. The reasoning behind that answer was due to the leading edge relief and what is basically a pretty low bounce sole, to begin with. 2 degrees up or down won’t do much except add/or subtract a touch of spin. Any more than a couple of degrees is where you will start to see some problems. Especially in the shorter clubs. The shafts play a big part in this as well, Tour Issue X100 is a tip-stiff, heavy profile. I think that the combo of the weaker lofts, low launching shaft, and forgiveness of the head may add up to something pretty cool.

To remedy this in my case I split the difference by blending the lofts to sit right in between Apex ’21 Std and my gamers.

Here is the Apex ’21 set up im going to try:

Shafts: Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (soft stepped)
SwingWeight: D3
Grips: Golf Pride BCT 58R Logo Down

New loft, Gamer loft, stock Gamer Yardage
4-iron: 21.5, 23, 210
5-iron: 24.5, 26, 195
6-iron: 27.5, 29, 180
7-iron: 31.5, 33, 165
8-iron: 35.5, 37, 150
9-iron: 40, 41, 135
PW: 45, 46, 125

What am I expecting to happen?

If I was to guess id say ill get about 1/2 club longer but most importantly what I’m hoping to see is my performance from 175+ improves. When looking at my stats it’s that yardage where my GIR numbers get really funky. It’s almost like looking at 2 different golfers.

Where my concern lies is in the shorter clubs (8-PW) where my stats are pretty damn good, and it’s from 8-iron down to LW that I make most of my birdies and the par percentage is awesome. Keep in mind that those stats at 175+ could reflect a poor short game but that wouldn’t be telling an accurate story. It’s where I’m hitting it from 175+ that’s killing me. Trust me when I say that I’ve put myself in some serious pickles with a 6-iron on up.

Best case this comes off and everything gets better, the worst case is I’m still garbage from 175+ with irons that should help. That’s more of a “maybe you aren’t as good as you think you are” scenario……ouch. The middle ground is a split in improvement in the 4-iron to 6-iron and a deficiency in the shorter clubs, but that’s what combo sets are for 😉

I’ll follow up after I’ve had a chance to bang these things around, please ask away if you have any questions. Would also like some Apex’21 players to chime in on what they have experienced.

I’m going in.

JDUB

33
21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Luca Imwinkelried

    May 27, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    Honestly, I could play these from 4 to AW, which would translate to 3 to PW in my head.

  2. Avatar

    Ryan

    May 28, 2021 at 1:56 am

    How are the soles on these. On a precious 101 you mentioned you hit anything with a thin sole well but I’m not sure how thing the apex is. I feel similar when it comes to soles. I’ve got cb in 4-pw. Would I gain much forgiveness from an apex pro 4 iron over my cb? Or is the apex sole thin enough? Cheers

    • Johnny Wunder

      Johnny Wunder

      May 28, 2021 at 1:59 am

      That’s a great question, I think the soles are just on the cusp of being thin enough but honestly I have to play around with them a bit. Ill report back after I test these bad boys.

      • Avatar

        s n

        June 14, 2021 at 12:24 am

        your comment that lofts have to be stronger because of cog blah blah… is silly… if it’s a 41 degree club, just put a 9 on it instead of pw… it’s all about making people think they hit it further

        • Johnny Wunder

          Johnny Wunder

          June 14, 2021 at 12:32 am

          I have ZERO idea what your referring to…
          COGs? Irons? Drivers? Lead me to water so I can reply…like I’m a 4 year old please. Thanks.

  3. Avatar

    Robert

    May 29, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    I’ve played with two scratch golfers that were playing with the Apex 19. I’m a 7 and I play the Apex 19. I don’t think your idea is revolutionary…

    • Johnny Wunder

      Johnny Wunder

      May 29, 2021 at 3:30 pm

      It’s not supposed to be revolutionary. It’s a question I was curious about so I’m going thru the steps of discovery. I don’t know a lot of low handicaps that play em. To be fair there might be a ton but I’m new to the idea. That’s it.

      • Avatar

        Scott Francis

        June 3, 2021 at 10:57 pm

        Heck Im a 6 and was gonna try the DCBs theyre thick topline and huge but hey if I hit off center and still hots green who cares??

  4. Avatar

    M

    May 29, 2021 at 9:21 pm

    Man, you have planted the seed in my head. I was just waggling the Apex 21’s at the store and was thinking hmmmm…

    Pretty much same as you, 5 handicap but weak iron player. If I could hit 1 more green per round simply by switching irons, could be totally worth it. The bonus is that after looking at these and hitting a few, they look and feel great.

    • Johnny Wunder

      Johnny Wunder

      May 30, 2021 at 12:15 am

      Happy to help!!

  5. Avatar

    Bert

    May 30, 2021 at 1:45 am

    I played the 14’s, 16’s, and the 2019’s and have always been very positive for them. It’s the feel and playability that keeps me satisfied. No, I’m not zero handicap and in fact as years progressed, my handicap has raised as well. Tonight I ordered the 2021’s and am eager, of course, to play them. My position is, better control, sound, feel and distance, what could possible be wrong. No brainer for me.

  6. Avatar

    Scott Francis

    June 3, 2021 at 10:59 pm

    Funny thing is if you look at the Apex 19 or Apex 21 they look like a blade size heel to toe. My Gen2 0311s look huge compared to the Apex

  7. Avatar

    Carter Matthews

    June 5, 2021 at 2:16 am

    Cool post. I guess my only question would be if you were very happy with the short iron MBs and long irons were the weakness why not leave the MBs as is but swap the long irons into the more forgiving Apex 21?

    I noticed this in my combo set of ‘18 MBs and ‘16 Apex Pros. Could I hit the ‘16 Apex Pro long irons? Yes. But I found it easier with the increased forgiveness of the ‘18 cup face versions.

    • Johnny Wunder

      Johnny Wunder

      June 5, 2021 at 2:42 am

      Still might lol

  8. Avatar

    Bill Wilson

    June 12, 2021 at 7:08 pm

    I have the Apex21 combo set. 8-pw are the blade, 5-7 in the CB. reading your article I didn’t hear if you thought of that combo
    What I find they are little hotter than my old CF16s Irons. Though they are a little hotter off face I can work them both ways.
    I hope you look into the offering

  9. Avatar

    Mark A Shaffer

    July 23, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    I liked this post a lot. I have a set of Apex 19s that I have been struggling with left misses on. I think it is the shafts are too soft (Nippon 950GH). My fitter is concerned that it could be offset. I have another set of irons with less offset, weaker lofts and different shafts (Steelfiber i95s) that I hit much more accurately but shorter. I am not a high swing speed player but am sub 5 index. I am interested in your thoughts on if the Steelfibers or something else in the A19s that will maintain some of the distance and trajectory. I don’t think it is the offset unless I can’t get it aimed properly.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    • Avatar

      Merlin

      August 19, 2021 at 4:53 pm

      I traded in the X Forged 18s for my Apex 21s and I couldn’t be happier. I can still work them ANY way I want to with relative ease. The biggest “issue” I have is learning to “Trust” my new yardages with the new set. I also changed shafts along the way, which I’m sure had a little bit to do with it. Like you, my regular “miss” is thin center, and I sure appreciate the bonus yardage I get from the Apex’. I know that the X Forged weren’t nearly as forgiving. I REALLY like my Apex’

    • Avatar

      Chuck

      August 31, 2021 at 4:42 pm

      I have played blades most of my life and years ago I tried a set of Pings that had what to me looked like a lot of offset. They never inspired confidence and I had a problem with hooks all the way to the 2 iron. I went back to my blades. Then I tried a set of Apex Pro irons and they worked well for years. I just turned 67 and my swing speeds aren’t near what they used to be and my pro has suggested that I try either the Apex 21s or PXG 0311s. My concern is the clubhead coming through impact closed and me hooking the ball again. Any thoughts?

  10. Avatar

    Steve Shepherd

    August 19, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    I mostly play by feel with irons. The stats confuse me frankly. My fitter said if I still liked my Callaway Steelhead irons, buying the Apex irons may not help my game as they just did’t feel as solid when I tried all three models out recently. My iron shots are usually short, as I think I can hit certain distances, but due to wind or unknown causes, they don’t travel as far as I would like. I am consciously trying to take one extra club and it seems to be improving my GIR stats!

  11. Avatar

    Frank R

    August 20, 2021 at 1:37 am

    I have had 6 sets of callaway irons. 3 sets of big berthas, then razorx, then up to apex cf16. I now have apex dcb irons. I definitely hit the berthas more accurately but not as far but the distance lost is minimal. The name of the game is lower scores which is why I bought the dcb’s. More game improvement. I only wish they would have went down to the sw.

  12. Avatar

    Chuck

    August 31, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    I have played blades most of my life and years ago I tried a set of Pings that had what to me looked like a lot of offset. They never inspired confidence and I had a problem with hooks all the way to the 2 iron. I went back to my blades. Then I tried a set of Apex Pro irons and they worked well for years. I just turned 67 and my swing speeds aren’t near what they used to be and my pro has suggested that I try either the Apex 21s or PXG 0311s. My concern is the clubhead coming through impact closed and me hooking the ball again. Any thoughts?

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